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Dear Readers,

Tell me honestly, has this ever happened to you?

  • You were at an upscale event and looked down at your feet only to notice that you were wearing two different shoes!
  • You painstakingly chose your outfit, carefully pairing it with matching accessories, only to later realize that you were wearing gorgeous earrings, but they were mismatched!

Mortifying, right?

Nope, not anymore!

In case, you haven’t heard, the very latest trend in fashion is to wear mismatched shoes and different earrings. What may have previously been thought of a terrible fashion faux pas (or, as ridiculously absent-minded!) is now actually a very fashion-forward statement.

Isn’t it amazing how trends change? Isn’t it even more amazing how we change along with them, and how something once thought of as unacceptable can become the new norm?

While accessories are entirely benign, there are many areas where modern fads and trends have become far more morally challenging. And yet, aren’t too many of us affected by what has become pervasive around us, even if intuitively we know it is wrong?

This week, we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. More than 3,300 years ago, G‑d gifted us with His Torah, a book of wisdom, guidance and meaning, as well as lots of laws and rules about what we can and cannot do. The Torah’s laws teach us that there is an objective truth, and that morality is not something to be altered based on whim or the winds of social change. We strive to follow the Torah’s commandments because we trust that our Creator knows and understands what is good for us, and our world, even better than we do.

As the Rebbe wrote: The Ten Commandments begin with the fundamental precepts of man’s relation to G‑d, and conclude with precepts governing man’s relation to man. This emphasizes that even the most elementary ethical and moral precepts have a validity and effectiveness only if they derive from the authority of “I am G‑d your G‑d” and “Thou shalt have no other gods.”

The history of mankind has continuously demonstrated that human life can make no real progress where the imperatives of morality and ethics are not based on the authority of the Supreme Being, but are human inventions that can be changed and modified to suit the proclivities of the age. The state of the generation of the present day is the best proof of that.

Let’s celebrate this Shavuot by reaccepting and reaffirming our devotion to G‑d and His Torah.

(And, as an added benefit, you can do so, in any pair—or mispairing—of shoes and earrings!)

Wishing you a Chag Sameach!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Dear Readers,

Are you married? Do you remember the day that you “tied the knot” and made the biggest commitment of your life? I wonder if you remember any of the details of that special day, like how you wore your hair or makeup, or the exact style of your bridal gown. While these details may be superfluous, I’ll bet that every year when this month comes around, you remember that your anniversary is approaching. And no matter how many years pass, when that special day finally does arrive, you celebrate it appropriately.

This week, we celebrate the arrival of the Jewish month of Sivan. This month is important for the Jewish people as it commemorates when we actually became G‑d’s chosen nation, His “bride.”

Rosh Chodesh Sivan is distinguished as the day on which the Jewish people arrived and camped before Mount Sinai. Six days later, on the sixth of Sivan, our marriage “ceremony” took place. We awoke to the awesome background concert of thunder and lightning, and beheld the scenic backdrop of flowers and greenery as the Torah was gifted by G‑d to the Jewish people.

Our wedding ceremony on Mount Sinai happened more than 3,300 years ago. It signified a life-transformative event, when we no longer were just a handful of tribes descending from great ancestors. We had become G‑d’s people—chosen to learn and teach His Torah, and to become a “light unto the nations.” Despite the many nations that have since attempted to stop us or destroy us, the Jewish people are still here today, thriving as a nation and succeeding to shed light on how to lead more G‑dly lives.

Every year on the holiday of Shavuot, we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah. Like our ancestors at Mount Sinai, we, too, proclaim Naasehv’nishmah: “We will do and we will learn.” We will use the Torah’s guidance to help us lead more meaningful lives.

Wishing you a Chodesh Tov! And wishing us all a happy upcoming anniversary!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Dear Readers,

A mission statement is a clear declaration of the aims and values of a company, organization or individual. Every successful business has one.

Some mission statements are inspiring. They declare the company’s social consciousness to create products that are pure, free of chemicals and don’t harm the environment. Others emphasize the company’s exceptional customer service, value and quality.

By articulating the company’s purpose, mission statements serve to guide the decision-making process and provide paths towards reaching an overall goal.

Which makes me wonder . . . what is my mission statement as a wife, mother, writer and Jewish woman? And, if I would focus more on it, would it keep me better on track?

In this week’s Torah portion, G‑d introduces the concept of shemittah, a Sabbatical year: “When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land shall rest a Shabbat to G‑d. For six years, you may sow your field . . . but in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest.” (Lev. 25:2-3)

The seven-year agricultural cycle observed in the Land of Israel begins with six years of work, followed by shemittah, a Sabbatical year. Yet the above passage gives the impression that as soon as the Jews entered Israel, they would need to immediately observe this Sabbatical year (the land shall rest a Shabbat to G‑d”—), followed by their six years of work.

The Torah teaches that our six years of work must be permeated with the ultimate goal of the seventh year, which is a “Shabbat to G‑d,” when we will be able to devote our time to holy, spiritual pursuits. Throughout those six years of labor, we need to remember that our work is not an end in itself, but a means for creating holiness in the world.

In our own “land,” the bulk of our schedules often deal with mundane tasks, responsibilities and never-ending “To Do” lists. It’s easy to lose focus on our spiritual mission. Do we work merely to acquire more, consume more, vacation more—and then once again begin the cycle anew? Or is there a more meaningful, underlying goal to our lives?

Our days and weeks, just like the six-year shemittah cycle, must be pervaded by a “Sabbath unto G‑d consciousness.” In the homes we build, the families we raise and as part of our day-to-day decisions, at the fore of our consciousness we must have a clear vision of our mission.

What is most important to us? Are we sacrificing integrity for financial gain? Are we allowing non-essential pursuits to consume too much of our time and mindset? Are we engaging in actions that are contrary to our ethics? Are qualities like joy, optimism and kindness apparent in our homes and daily lives?

To stay on track—true to our values and spiritual selves—each of us must have a clear mission statement.

What’s yours?

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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